Carrie Rengers

Guitar John’s music store to open in Riverside

John Byler, pictured, is opening Guitar John’s in Riverside with business partner Todd Byers. The shop will open in the next couple of weeks at 815 W. 11th St. just down from R Coffee House at 11th and Bitting.
John Byler, pictured, is opening Guitar John’s in Riverside with business partner Todd Byers. The shop will open in the next couple of weeks at 815 W. 11th St. just down from R Coffee House at 11th and Bitting. The Wichita Eagle

What’s been called the coolest corner in Wichita is about to get a little hipper.

John Byler and Todd Byers are opening Guitar John’s at 815 W. 11th St., which is just down from R Coffee House at 11th and Bitting, in the next couple of weeks.

“It’s going to be a music store, but there’s a back story behind why music,” Byler says. “For me, music is medicine.”

The Newton native was in a car accident 12 years ago that left him with a brain injury.

“Music has really taken center stage for me in my recovery,” Byler says.

“After my car accident, I couldn’t speak very clearly for a year,” he says. He says he “couldn’t even listen to music for a year.”

“My brain felt like it was full, like after a Thanksgiving dinner,” Byler says. “I was in a dark room most of the time.”

Medical professionals tried to treat him with medications, Byler says, but he says they didn’t work.

“I slowly began to listen to music again,” he says.

More importantly, he says, he began playing it. Music became his preferred method of communication.

“For me, the guitar is a more reliable way of communicating,” he says. “My guitar playing actually has been more reliable than my speaking.”

Now, Byler wants to share music in the form of instruments and lessons in the hopes it will help others.

“I consider Wichita to be my field for service,” he says. “We want to be a blessing to the community.”

Byers is a musician who will sell and refurbish instruments in the shop.

The focus will be on guitars, cellos, fiddles, banjos and mandolins.

“That’s what we’ll specialize in,” Byler says. “It’ll have a real bluegrass-country emphasis.”

He says there also “may be an accordion or two.”

Byler says he wants to play to Byers’ strength, which is more in the acoustic realm.

They decided to name their shop Guitar John’s instead of something with Riverside in the name, as they planned, “to kind of put a person’s face to it,” Byler says.

He divides his time between Hesston and a Victorian house at 1121 N. Bitting around the corner from Guitar John’s where he’ll also offer lessons, including larger group classes.

Stephanie Wise of John T. Arnold Associates handled the deal for the Riverside space.

Though he’s come a long way since the accident, including writing a book called “ ‘You Look Great!’ Strategies for Living Inside a Brain Injury,” Byler says he’s still recovering. He says the music store – and forming his own band, which he’s now doing – is part of that.

“I’ve been a work in progress.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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